Kings Canyon National Park: Tips and Packing List

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

“In the vast Sierra wilderness, far to the southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is yet a grander valley of the same kind. It is situated on the south fork of the Kings River, above the most extensive groves and forests of the giant sequoia, and beneath the shadows of the highest mountains in the range, where canyons are the deepest and the snow-laden peaks are crowded most closely together.”

           – John Muir, 1891

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Kings Canyon is a national park that is often overlooked in favor of its more popular neighbor, Sequoia. Anyone who does that is really missing out though. Kings Canyon is a beautiful park full of amazing sights and natural wonders. Deep valleys with granite walls, towering sequoias, and a powerful roaring river running through it….there’s no doubt, Kings Canyon is an awe-inspiring park for sure.

The crowds can get intense though, and the weather can present some challenges. So here are my tips on what to do and what to pack in order to get the most out of your visit:

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Useful Tips

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

  • Make sure to allow some time to explore the national forest area in between the two halves of Kings Canyon. There’s a lot of great hiking options there, plus a lake where you can rent boats!
  • The park is divided into two halves, Cedar Grove and Grant Grove. Make sure to visit both, and allow plenty of time to drive between the two (it’s a fairly long mountain road… roughly an hour or two).
  • Pack a swim suit! There are several points along the river that are safe for swimming, plus tons of surrounding lakes throughout the national forest.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

  • But stay out of the river in faster moving areas. The current is swift and deadly, and can be nearly impossible to get out of (seriously…people drown here every year). Enter the river only where it is mostly calm and shallow! Like in the above picture. Avoid areas like the picture below:

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Just kidding… obviously no one is dumb enough to swim in that. But for reals, don’t go in any of the rapids.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

  • Pack plenty of insect repellent and citronella candles (for back at camp). Where there is water, there are bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Tiny little gnats that constantly swarm your face and get in your eyes. Repellent and candles won’t make them completely go away, but they sure help!
  • Dress in layers. The temperature can vary greatly depending on where you are in the park and the time of day. Jackets are a must! But so are tank tops.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

  • Bring everything you think you’ll need. There is a small general store at Grant Grove, but it is a long drive to the closest town. So if the general store is closed for the night or they don’t have what you need, you are shit out of luck.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Weather

Historic Average Temperatures
Giant Forest, Lodgepole, and Grant Grove
Average high Average low Extreme high Extreme low
Jan 42°F
6°C
24°F
-4°C
68°F
20°C
-6°F
-21°C
Feb 44°F
7°C
25°F
-4°C
70°F
21°C
-4°F
-21°C
Mar 46°F
8°C
26°F
-3°C
76°F
24°C
0°F
18°C
Apr 51°F
11°C
30°F
-1°C
77°F
25°C
8°F
-13°C
May 58°F
14°C
36°F
2°C
83°F
28°C
13°F
-11°C
Jun 68°F
20°C
44°F
7°C
91°F
33°C
22°F
-6°C
Jul 76°F
24°C
51°F
11°C
92°F
33°C
34°F
1°C
Aug 76°F
24°C
50°F
10°C
94°F
34°C
28°F
-2°C
Sep 71°F
22°C
45°F
7°C
90°F
32°C
23°F
-5°C
Oct 61°F
16°C
38°F
3°C
82°F
28°C
11°F
-12°C
Nov 50°F
10°C
31°F
-1°C
96°F
36°C
4°F
-20°C
Dec 44°F
7°C
27°F
-3°C
73°F
23°C
-4°F
-20°C

*** Cedar Grove is closed in the winter due to frequent rock falls ***

(Info obtained from the NPS website)

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Packing List

  • GSI Percolator. No camp breakfast is complete without a fresh cup of coffee brewed over a campfire. This 12-cup percolator from GSI is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It’s tough enough to withstand direct heat from the fire, and it brews a great pot of coffee every time. It’s a camping must-have!

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

GSI Percolator

  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent. There are seriously more bugs in this park than I can handle, especially on the Mist Falls trail. This is a great natural insect repellent to help protect you from all those nasty diseases bugs carry, and also just to help keep them out of your face while you’re trying to hike. 

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Repel

  • Aleader Water Shoes. River rocks can get really slippery, plus there’s all sorts of gunk in the riverbeds. Water shoes are a great option to make playing in the river safer and easier! These ones dry fast, have good traction, and provide plenty of cushioning for your feets. Plus they are available in 15 different colors!

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Aleader

 
  • Roxy Beanie. The temperatures can vary quite a bit here, with cold nights and mornings and warm afternoons. I always like to pack a beanie to keep my head warm during those colder hours. I love this fleece-lined beanie from Roxy! Stylish and super warm. But if this one isn’t your jam, there are tons of other Roxy beanie options out there!

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

ROXY

  • Coleman Cool Weather Sleeping Bag. Having a sleeping bag to keep you warm during those cold nights is an essential. You don’t need to buy one of those expensive ones from REI though in order to stay warm! This one from Coleman is made for temperatures as low as 30°F, and is only around $30. Who says outdoors gear has to be pricey? And if you’re in the market for a bag with different temperature ratings or different features, they have plenty more to choose from.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Coleman

  • Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven. When it comes to cooking over a campfire, cast iron is the way to go! I love the 12″ oven, because it is so versatile. Soups, stews, cobblers, meats, veggies… you name it, it can be cooked in this oven. You can even flip the lid over to use as a griddle! Meaning less dishes for you to pack.

Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Lodge Dutch Oven

  • Burt’s Bees cosmetics and personal care items.  Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to let your beauty routines slide. Pack items that travel easily and multitask, such as these makeup removal wipes and BB cream with SPF from Burt’s Bees. Made with responsibly sourced, 99% natural ingredients and no animal testing, this is a company who’s products you can feel good about using out in nature!
Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

Burt’s Bees


Roxy, roxy beanies, repel insect repellent, natural insect repellent, dutch oven, lodge dutch oven, campfire cooking, how to cook over a campfire, camp coffee pot, gsi percolator, burt’s bees, natural cosmetics, cold weather sleeping bag, coleman sleeping bag, water shoes, kings canyon, kings canyon national park, what to bring to kings canyon, what to pack for kings canyon, best things to do in kings canyon, camping in kings canyon, hiking in kings canyon, what to do in kings canyon

So there you have it! Really the only thing you need in order to enjoy your visit is a little bit of advance preparation. This is an easy park to visit, and you don’t need much to have a good time here and experience all the best things to see and do. So get out there and see Kings Canyon!

And be sure to check out all my other posts on Kings Canyon for ideas on what to see and do during your visit!

For additional information on Kings Canyon National Park, visit the official park website.

Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in Grant Grove, though many of the facilities have shorter hours during the winter season. Cedar Grove is closed for the winter.

Entrance fee is $30 per vehicle.


 

 

Natural Hot Springs: How-to Guide and Packing List

Natural hot springs, things to know before visiting natural hot springs, what to bring to natural hot springs, what to wear in natural hot springs, hot springs, tips for visiting hot springs, hot springs safety tips

Visiting natural hot springs is awesome. Being able to relax in a natural hot tub after a long day of hiking is a perfect way to soothe sore muscles and remove the stress of regular life. Plus all the minerals in the water are amazing for your skin!

While once hidden gems and known to insiders only, travel sites and social media have made natural hot springs easier to find than ever. With that comes some pros and cons. So to help you get the most out of your visit and leave the hot spring feeling relaxed instead of annoyed, I have put together this guide including what to expect, safety tips, and some packing suggestions. So read on to learn anything you could possibly want to know about visiting natural hot springs!

Natural hot springs, things to know before visiting natural hot springs, what to bring to natural hot springs, what to wear in natural hot springs, hot springs, tips for visiting hot springs, hot springs safety tips

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • A strong possibility of nudity, especially in the hot springs not run by any establishments (such as Sykes hot springs in Big Sur). So think twice before bringing youngins if you don’t want them to see boobies running wild and free. And exercise that same caution if you are also offended by nudity. If that is your case, then stick with commercialized hot springs (such as Tabacon hot springs in Costa Rica).
  • Big crowds. If you have dreams of a personal natural hot tub out in the wilderness, keep on dreaming. Cause that’s not gonna happen. Try adding a handful of strangers into the pool, plus some more standing around waiting their turn to use it. Time to get social!

Natural hot springs, things to know before visiting natural hot springs, what to bring to natural hot springs, what to wear in natural hot springs, hot springs, tips for visiting hot springs, hot springs safety tips

SAFETY TIPS:

  • Stay hydrated. The heat of the water causes you to sweat more, resulting in a higher than usual loss of the water in your body. Drinking lots of water will help combat the rapid water depletion and will also help keep you cool while in the hot water. Becoming dehydrated can lead to dizziness or make you feel lightheaded, which is no good on slippery surfaces.
  • Don’t stay in the water too long. Body heat is released through your skin, which is how your body temperature stays regulated. When submerged in water, the heat remains trapped in your body, causing you to overheat (yes, heat exhaustion can happen in the water too, which you can read about here). In addition, the hot water allows your skin to dilate (which is why it’s so awesome for cleansing your skin of toxins and impurities) resulting in heat escaping from your body too rapidly after exiting the hot spring. Which isn’t a problem in fair temperatures, but is something to keep in mind when using those hot springs in cold weather. The extreme temperature difference can lead to hypothermia.
  • Avoid consuming too much alcohol or drugs. The effects they have on your blood pressure and heart activity are multiplied by the hot water temperature. They can cause dizziness and balance problems, which can be dangerous on already slippery surfaces. Drugs and alcohol also mess with your ability to react, so if the water is getting too hot for your body, or you pass out from heat or intoxication, you’ll be less capable of fixing the situation. It can even lead to accidental drowning.
  • Don’t put your head under water!!! While not terribly common, every year a few Americans die suddenly after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba. These microscopic amoebas can be found in any body of fresh water that is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter (they can’t survive in salt water), such as lakes, slow moving rivers, untreated swimming pools, and hot springs. While most common in Florida and Texas, they can live in any warm climates around the globe. The only way this brain-eating amoeba can enter your body is through the nose, which is why keeping your head above water will keep you safe.

    It usually takes 2-15 days for symptoms to begin after being infected by the amoeba. Death occurs within a week from symptom onset. Symptoms feel similar to having a regular cold or flu, such as headaches, fever, a stiff neck, and vomiting, eventually growing more serious such as seizures or comas. There is no cure. The amoeba just eats away your brain until you die.

    The odds of contracting the amoeba are fairly low, but I say it isn’t worth the gamble. For more info on the amoeba, look up Naegleria fowleri.

Natural hot springs, things to know before visiting natural hot springs, what to bring to natural hot springs, what to wear in natural hot springs, hot springs, tips for visiting hot springs, hot springs safety tips

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  • Natural hot springs are just that: natural. Meaning no filters. For your own peace of mind, don’t think about, stir up, or grab the sediment that has settled on the bottom. It’s like a germaphobe’s worst nightmare.
  • To avoid big crowds, go during the week, on the off season, or at weird times of the day (ex. at sunrise, before most campers are awake and before the day trippers arrive).
  • If there is a big crowd and a wait to use the hot spring, limit your use to only 20 minutes so others can have a turn.
  • Don’t bring glass bottles. No one wants to step or sit on broken glass.

Natural hot springs, things to know before visiting natural hot springs, what to bring to natural hot springs, what to wear in natural hot springs, hot springs, tips for visiting hot springs, hot springs safety tips

PACKING LIST:

  • Underwater sandals with tread. As previously mentioned, wearing some sort of footwear in the hot springs will protect your feet from whatever nastiness has settled on the bottom. Having tread on the shoes comes in handy while traversing rocky or slippery surfaces. I like these pairs by Teva:

    Teva Sandals – Women’s

     

    Teva Sandals – Men’s

 

  • Reusable water bottle. These stainless steel water bottles with attached carabiners by Healthy Human will keep your water cold for up to 24hrs. Gotta stay hydrated!

    Healthy Human

 

  • Swim shorts. You never know what the surface will be like inside the hot spring, so I like to put a little more distance between my *ahem* business and the gunk lurking beneath the surface. As a CA beach bum, my go-to solution for board shorts is anything by Hurley:

    Hurley

 

  • Reusable plastic bag. Having a plastic bag to stash your wet stuff in is awesome for when you’re finished at the hot spring. It’ll keep your wet and dirty stuff away from your dry stuff. Plastic grocery bags also work great, but they are banned here in CA. Here is a more environmentally friendly option by Bingone:

    Bingone

 

  • Packable towel. It’s nice being able to dry off when you’re done soaking. These microfiber towels by EcoDept are super absorbent and dry quickly. Plus they are lightweight and pack down really small so they don’t take up a ton of room in your bag.

    EcoDept

 

  • Small backpack. You’ve gotta use something to carry all that water, dry stuff, and your necessities. Osprey is my forever favorite brand for backpacks, and these three packs are perfect for short adventures!

    Osprey Daylite Daypack

    Osprey Nebula Daypack

    Osprey Ultralight Stuff Sack

 

  • Waterproof camera or case for your phone. Taking photos and capturing memories is one of my favorite parts of adventuring. And it’s easier to do with the right gear for the occasion! You don’t want to have to worry about your equipment getting wet…so bring a camera meant for water! Or a waterproof case for your phone.

    FujiFilm FinePix XP90 Underwater Digital Camera

    FujiFilm QuickSnap Waterproof 35mm Disposable Camera

    FitFort Universal Waterproof Case


And there you have it! Everything you could possibly want to know before heading to a natural hot spring. Probably even more than you wanted to know.

Do you have any favorite natural hot springs to visit? Share it in the comments! I always need more ideas of cool places to check out.

Heat Exhaustion Survival Guide

Heat exhaustion is no joke. It can quickly ruin your day and thwart your plans for adventure, and if not tended to immediately, can lead to much, much worse things, including comas. Brain damage. Death.

Well, I have experienced heat exhaustion while hiking in Badlands National Park and it super sucks. But when handled properly, you can be back up on your feet again in no time! So here is my little heat exhaustion survival guide:

Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

Hiking the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park… heat exhaustion begins to set in.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person has been exposed to high temperatures and their body can’t cool itself off properly. It usually happens when they’ve been exercising in hot weather, sweating a lot, or not drinking enough fluids.

It happens in hot, dry weather when the body is perspiring excessively, leading to dehydration. The dehydration then leads to muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, and vomiting, which makes it hard to consume enough fluids to replenish your body and continue producing sweat. Without sweat, your body loses its ability to cool itself off, causing your body temperature to rise.

It can also happen in excessive humidity. When moisture levels in the air are really high, sweat can’t evaporate off your body and remains on your skin, trapping body heat. With no way for the heat to escape, it stays in your body, raising your core temperature.

Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

I first started feeling signs of heat exhaustion while hiking the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park. This trail is 10 miles long, and completely exposed. And in 80-90 degree weather, that gets really brutal, really fast. After awhile I started getting a hint of a headache. Not long after that it turned into feeling a little faint. And that was followed by nausea. Then vomiting all over the trail. At that point I knew I had heat exhaustion, and it was time to act.

Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

How to prevent heat exhaustion?

Obviously the best thing to do for heat exhaustion is to not get it in the first place. So if you know you’re going to be spending time outdoors during the warmer months, be smart about it. Here are some tips to keep you safe and cool:

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Light colors reflect the sun and absorb less heat, and cotton/polyester blends breathe better than heaver knits like 100% cotton.
  • Keep your skin covered. This one might seem counterintuitive, but clothing can actually act as a cooling device as the wind blows through your wet, sweaty shirt. And the clothes can also prevent the heat from being absorbed directly into your body.
  • Wear a hat, preferably a wide-brimmed, well-ventilated one. The blood vessels in your head and neck are close to the skin surface, so you tend to gain or lose heat there very quickly.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
  • Avoid doing strenuous physical activity during the hottest or most humid times of the day. And if you do head outside, take it easy until temps cool down if possible.
  • If traveling to a place that is hotter than where you live, it can take your body up to a week to acclimate to the difference. So try to do chill activities for your first few days and build up to the more physical stuff.
  • Steer clear of alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. Alcohol and caffeine speed up dehydration (hello hangovers), while smoking constricts blood vessels, which impedes your body’s ability to acclimate to the heat.
  • DRINK FLUIDS!!! Particularly water and electrolyte beverages such as Gatorade. Gatorade and similar drinks help replenish potassium and salt lost during increased sweating (you know those nasty looking white marks left on your shirt after the sweat dries? Yep, salt). Electrolyte tablets are also awesome and can be mixed with water as needed.
  • It helps to start hydrating before you even venture outside. Start chugging that water a couple hours before heading out so you start off fully hydrated, then continue drinking at least 8oz of fluids every 30 minutes you spend exercising outdoors (even if you aren’t thirsty).
  • This one might sound obvious, but use whatever you have on hand as a fan to create a breeze. Hats, maps, giant leaves… you can make anything work if you try hard enough.
  • Become your own personal swamp cooler. Pour cool water over your head and neck, or soak a bandanna or shirt in water. As air blows over the water, it will function in the same way as an evaporative cooler, helping lower your body temperature.
Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

The spot of shade we found near the road where my friend took me to cool down while the others hiked back to get the car.

How to handle heat exhaustion after it sets in?

If you’re anything like me and did literally nothing right and ended up getting heat exhaustion, the good news is it’s pretty easy to treat if you act fast.

That’s the key though. As soon as the symptoms start kicking in, do something about it. Don’t try to play it tough and stick it out. It doesn’t work like that. If you don’t lower your body temp ASAP, it can lead to seriously bad things. So the quicker you fix it, the faster and easier it is to make it go away so you can get back to adventuring!

Here’s what to do:

  • Immediately get out of the heat and head indoors to air-conditioning or to a shaded place.
  • Rest. Lay down with your legs and feet slightly elevated.
  • Loosen your clothing and remove any unnecessary articles.
  • Apply a cool compress to your head, neck, and chest. Spray or splash your body with water. Take a cool shower. Sit in a cold pool or river. Basically use cold water to help cool your body temperature down faster.
  • Drink lots and lots of fluids to help re-hydrate your body. So drink some water. And then drink more water.
  • Cool down any other way you can. Once my nausea passed and I was feeling a little better, we bought popsicles and ice cream in the park general store. Still avoid caffeine and alcohol though- they’ll make your dehydration worse.

If these things don’t start to help within 30 minutes or so, it’s time to seek help. Call 911 if you are experiencing:

  • A very high, weak pulse rate and rapid shallow breathing.
  • Lack of consciousness, disorientation, or have a persistent high body temperature.
  • Warm and dry skin, elevated or lowered blood pressure, and hyperventilation.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke which is much, much worse. And more dangerous.

Experiencing heat exhaustion will leave your body more sensitive to high temperatures for the next week or so, so take it easy for awhile, especially during the next 24 hours or your body could relapse.

My personal story with heat exhaustion: as soon as I knew it reached the point of no return, we concocted our plan to get me off the trail and into shade ASAP. One friend escorted me back to the road via a spur trail (which was the shortest possible route for me to have to walk), while the others back tracked on the trail to where we left our car. My friend (who luckily for me was training to be an EMT) found shade for me, helped me lay down and get comfortable, and then made cool compresses for me until the others could return with the car. As my nausea subsided, I started sipping on water. By the time they got back with the car, I was already feeling much better. And after sitting in the air-conditioned car, I felt almost back to normal again. A popsicle back at the visitor center general store was the cherry on top and had me back on my feet!

Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

Ice cream at the general store… a perfect way to cool off!

What can happen if you don’t deal with your heat exhaustion immediately:

If you don’t treat your heat exhaustion right away and allow your body temperature to continue to rise and remain at those higher temps for too long, it can lead to heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related injury and is a full blown medical emergency. It can cause brain damage, damage to other vital organs and your nervous system, and even death.

Symptoms of heat stroke are similar to heat exhaustion, but can also involve seizures, disorientation, and loss of consciousness. The biggest indicator of heat stroke is having a core body temperature of 104 degrees or higher.

I thought this was interesting, so I thought you guys might enjoy this little chart I found too:

  • 97.7–99.5 °F: Normal, a typically reported range for body temperature.
  • 100.4 °F: (this is classed as hyperthermia if not caused by a fever) Feeling hot, sweating, feeling thirsty, feeling very uncomfortable, slightly hungry. If this is caused by fever, there may also be chills.
  • 102.2 °F: Severe sweating, flushed and red. Fast heart rate and breathlessness. There may be exhaustion accompanying this. Children and people with epilepsy may be very likely to get convulsions at this point.
  • 104.0 °F: Fainting, dehydration, weakness, vomiting, headache, breathlessness and dizziness may occur as well as profuse sweating. Starts to be life-threatening.
  • 105.8 °F: (Medical emergency) Fainting, vomiting, severe headache, dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, delirium and drowsiness can occur. There may also be palpitations and breathlessness.
  • 107.6 °F: Subject may turn pale or remain flushed and red. They may become comatose, be in severe delirium, vomiting, and convulsions can occur. Blood pressure may be high or low and heart rate will be very fast.
  • 109.4 °F: Normally death, or there may be serious brain damage, continuous convulsions and shock. Cardio-respiratory collapse will likely occur.
  • 111.2 °F or more: Almost certainly death will occur; however, people have been known to survive up to 115.7 °F.

If your heat exhaustion progresses to heat stroke, call 911 IMMEDIATELY. And continue administering first aid and attempting to lower your temperature until help arrives.

Heat exhaustion, how to survive heat exhaustion, what is heat exhaustion, how to prevent heat exhaustion, signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, causes of heat exhaustion, causes of heat stroke, how to cure heat exhaustion, badlands, badlands national park

So you can see why it’s so crucial to treat heat exhaustion as soon as you start feeling symptoms. If properly tended to, you can continue having a lovely vacation without any complications. I was up and about feeling 100% within an hour after getting heat exhaustion. I hope this post helps you all stay safe and cool during your summer adventures!

Resources:

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/heat-exhaustion#1
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/heat-stroke-symptoms-and-treatment#1
http://www.prevention.com/health/24-tactics-to-prevent-heat-exhaustion
 http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/heat-exhaustion-treatment